The U.S. green card application is extremely thorough. When you fill out Form I-485, you’ll be required to respond to nearly a hundred yes-or-no questions. One of these questions asks if you have “ever been a member of, or in any way affiliated with, the Communist Party, or any other totalitarian party”.
In this article, we’ll discuss this question and what you should know if you have to select “yes”.
Who needs to select “yes”?
The question is clear—you have to select “yes” if you’ve had any membership or affiliation with a Communist Party or totalitarian party in the past or present. If you grew up in Mainland China, your answer will almost certainly be yes by association with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), as children in China are usually required to be a part of groups like the “Young Pioneers” or “Young Communist League”.
Some students at universities or colleges in China are required to join the university or college Communist Party affiliate as well. If any of this is applicable to you, you must select “yes”.
The impact of CCP or other totalitarian party affiliation on U.S. green card applications
U.S. immigration law says that any membership in or affiliation with the CCP or another totalitarian party makes you “inadmissible” for a U.S. green card. Being “inadmissible” means that you are not permitted to enter the United States and not allowed to obtain U.S. permanent residence. Thankfully, there are exceptions if you may have been a member or in affiliation with an organization like the ones described above. You can qualify for an exception if you can show that:
- Your party membership or affiliation was involuntary;
- Your party membership or affiliation ended before you turned 16 years old;
- Your party membership or affiliation was necessary to obtain employment, food rations, or other essentials of living; or
- Your party membership or affiliation ended at least 2 years before the date you applied for a U.S. green card (if the membership or affiliation was with a party controlling the government where the applicant was a member/affiliate), or at least 5 years before applying (if the membership was separate from any government-controlled party).
You may also qualify for an exception if you are the parent, spouse, child, or sibling of a U.S. citizen or other spouse or child of a U.S. permanent resident.
How to prevent a green card denial based on inadmissibility
To ensure you can prepare a strong green card application, you should work with an experienced immigration team. Be open with your immigration attorney about any past or present involvement in the CCP or a totalitarian party, even when that membership might have been during childhood or was involuntary. Your attorney will help you gather any necessary evidence to show that you qualify for an exception.
Advice from an immigration attorney
Legalpad Immigration Attorney and Senior Manager Robert Herreria is very experienced in helping Chinese-born immigrants get U.S. green cards. Robert says that showing that former CCP members or affiliates meet an exception is common and that U.S. immigration authorities are aware that persons who grew up in China are often made members involuntarily.
“If you grew up in China or are currently a CCP member, you should end your membership as soon as possible, stop paying any dues or membership fees to the party, and retain any paperwork that can evidence that you have ended your membership. From there, you’ll have to wait at least two years before applying for a U.S. green card. In the meantime, you can file an employment-based immigrant petition, such as the EB-1 or EB-2, which will get you a ‘spot in line’ to apply for your green card in the future."
“Even if you were previously affiliated with the CCP in any way, or you are an involuntary member, you may be able to apply for your green card now if you can show that you meet one or more of the exceptions. Be prepared to answer any questions USCIS may have about your affiliation” Robert says. “In any situation, the best thing you can do is make sure you have a skilled U.S. immigration team on your side.”
If you are looking into becoming a U.S. permanent resident, you should be prepared to answer many questions about your past, including what we’ve discussed in this article. Regardless of the situation, we’re here to help support you throughout your U.S. immigration journey from work visas to green cards. Reach out to our team for customized help.